To God’s Beloved At Cloverdale Baptist Church:
Happy New Years! Welcome to 2022, a year of great anticipation for what God will do, as He works in us and through us!
An opportunity for all of us to say goodbye to yesterday, and renew our devotion to Jesus for tomorrow. He can be trusted for all 2022 will contain (if He doesn't return first, EVEN SO LORD JESUS COME!).
I love making New Years resolutions, and although I don’t keep them all perfectly (perhaps don’t keep any perfectly), see this as an opportunity to prayerfully seek God’s help in aligning my life with His Word and Worthship.
As we come to the end of this year, it is fun to look back with lists, so here are five lists for 2021.
My Top 5 Books Of 2021:
#5: Desire: Dane Ortland. Dane is from a prolific family, and and Ray and Anne continue to have a massive impact on my life. Dane is heading in that direction with last years great, Humble and Lowly, and one that made my top five this year. He writes in a humble way that engages my heart and makes me long to know God more. A dangerous read if you want to live a luke-warm life.
#4: The Sermon On The Mount: D.A. Carson. I loved Lloyd-Jones two volume set on The Sermon On The Mount, in fact it changed my life. Carson’s work is substantially shorter, but if read with a humble heart will change your life and align it with who Jesus wants you to be. Carson is always scholarly, and in this work, I find him pastoral as well. Was great for my heart and my head, and a worthwhile short read. I re-read his book on the Cross & Christian Ministry, and it was excellent as well, but my #4 stays with this wonderful work on the greatest sermon ever preached (okay, weekend conference).
#3: Called To Greatness: Ron Hutchraft. This is a book I try to read every year as a reminder of the importance of being an Ambassador for Jesus. As before left me longing to be more effective in representing Him for His glory. Well written and convicting. Don’t read unless you want to be more missional in your life.
#2: The Gospel For Real Life: Jerry Bridges. The more we experience the greatness of grace, the more it will compel us. This book is a helpful reminder as to what the Gospel is, and how to preach it to yourself every day. An excellent book for the faint of heart, and all who think they don’t need it. Perhaps a great cure for the COVID concerns you might have on all sides.
#1: 10 Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Donald Whitney. This is a great book to begin the New Year with. Like almost everything that Whitney writes, and this book is such a helpful reminder of our need to have a first love devotion. I read last January and plan on reading again this year, as I seek to align my life with His!
My Top Four Highlights:
#1: The Birth Of Eloise Joy. Enough said.
#2: My family, living close by and the unity we have in loving one another. I do not take this for granted, and so delight that God has given us (Lori and I) time with our precious family. COVID is not easy, but if you didn’t like your family it would be almost insufferable!
#3: Our Church Unity: I have been awed and thankful that for the most part our church family has stayed on God’s side, in support of the elders and continued giving. I was pretty sure the damage of a long journey in COVID would be tremendous, and although there has been some damage, the depth of faith and discipleship in our family has kept the essentials essential, and the family together. I know this is always as frail as our faith, so I continue to pray for unity, and loyalty to Jesus and His bride, but I am delighted that so far we have been found faithful!
#4: Missional Commitment: I think that distractions have been heavier than ever, and yet our church family continues to make sharing the Gospel with friends, family and the world a priority. I am so excited that in the midst of what could have derailed our passion to share the good news of Jesus with the world, we are still growing in this. We have a long way to go, but it thrills my heart to see the Spirit of God producing in the people of God a longing to share about the glory of what Jesus has done for us!
My Top 3 Issues Of Concern For The Canadian Church:
#3: The Seeming Exchange Of God’s Narrative For The World’s. I suppose this is not new, but it is a concern for me that Christians need to be more Word saturated than world saturated. I think the talk in the past year in the greater Canadian church has been more about COVID than Christ and more about one’s response to this than one’s living on mission for Jesus. If our pursuit of holiness is replaced by our passion for worldly comfort, or convenience, or even concerns about what is happening, we are in deep trouble! My heart aches as people unite and divide over their narrative of COVID rather than God's narrative of the church. If we all are Word saturated and Word obedient we can stand any storm (Matthew 7:21-27).
#2: The Loss Of Missional Passion: Again, not new, but when I am asked for help by other churches over this past year it is almost always over unity issues, not missional pursuits. Over how to handle Romans 14 issues, not how to pursue 2 Corinthians 5 lives. I think if the church can be busy pursuing what matters most to God, in terms of: Loving God (Holiness); Loving One Another (preferential self sacrifice); and Mission (evangelism in word and deed), we will be busy enough not to get distracted by the demonic, the flesh, or the world. The humility that comes from a sound view of Jesus goals for us, will yield a unity, a love, and a passion that will cloud out the other things.
#1: A Lack Of Depth: That might yield a lack of return to corporate gatherings, and might turn into a massive move away from authentic Christianity. I am not opposed to the home church movement, but if you can only get along with people who agree with you on secondary issues, the primary issues will soon become irrelevant, and the next generation will live convenient Christian lives at best. We need to rediscover an all defining relationship with Jesus that loves His Word and lives for His glory together, and unify around this. Depth always shows itself in holiness, love, and a commitment to the local church, may we discover an ever growing love for the Saviour that includes a death to self, and a life for His glory (Luke 9:23; Romans 12:1-10).
My Top 2 Prayer Requests For Our Church Family:
#1: Wisdom For Our Joint Servant Team: The kind of wisdom that James 1 calls for us to ask for, and James 3 defines. We need this at a time when so many threats face our church family, and where our longing is to be those who know the will of our LORD, and follow it regardless of the cost! Please pray that we would have this wisdom from God, and that our leadership would not only tenderly care for a fragile flock, but be such that leads us to full devotion to Him no matter what the cost.
#2: That We Would Walk Worthy Of The Gospel We Have Received: That the world would note Cloverdale Baptist Church because of our devotion to God and self-sacrificial love for one another. That in the midst of the madness that seems to point us to the return of our Saviour, we would live in light of eternity, and people would notice and ask us the reason for the hope that we have. That we would be a people driven and defined by our relationship with Jesus! That He would be our joy, our passion, the first word from our mouths in the morning, and last thought in our hearts on our pillows!
My Top Pursuit For 2022 For Cloverdale Baptist Church
Discipleship (depth in intimacy with God through loving and obeying His Word). Not the program, but people living fully devoted lives to Jesus. Not religious righteousness, but radical, humble, all in devotion to Jesus, that knows and obey’s all of His Word, and in that finds security and significance in the midst of any storm (Matthew 7:21-27). We can do ALL THINGS if we stay on His side, follow His Word, and love one another!
If you are still reading, and have read everything to this point, and are one of the first three to email me, you will get a book that I hope will help you in your discipleship pursuit.
I am excited about a 2022 that will include great things done for the glory of God, in His strength!
May we live in His presence in a way that yields His peace, and offers His power, for His prestige!
Sunday Is Coming:
A New Year: Living The Difference Jesus Makes
How is this a cry for help that comes from humility?
How is prayer a part of shaping your goals for 2022?
What does it mean to pray for revival?
How can we live our lives for the glory of God?
We will be celebrating communion together, perhaps the most unifying thing we do as a church as we participate at the core of our beings in intimacy with Jesus corporately. Please prepare your hearts and lives for this celebration!
Very excited about 2022, and all that God as for us to accomplish together for His glory!
Your servant because I am His,
There will be many more hills and valley's in the upcoming year (anyone say bill c4), and as we walk together for His glory, let us chose His pathway, and honour His name!
WELCOME TO 2022